J LIBRARY OF COiNGRESS.!
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1^ .z^^.rr,7.i..._:, I
t UNITED STATES OI^ AMERICA \
PVf E. TRASTOUR, M. D.
THE AUTHOR RESERVES TO HIMSELF THE RIGHT OF TRANSLATION
INTO FRENCH AND SPANISH.
B. BLOOM FIELD &C0.,
NEW ORLEANS, LA.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by
B. BLOO.M FIELD & CO.,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Origin of Astronomy, ....
Astronomy of the Priests of the Antique Egypt,
Their caste massacred by the orders of Cambyses
Their ancient science lost, ....
Revival of Astronomy in Alexandria at a late
The population of Alexandria,
Destiny of 3.1an, ......
Latent and coutinual labor of the civilization,
Matter is universal and immutable,
Nature does not permit miracles in its domain, .
An unceasing progress of plants, animals and
man is continued in the infinite of time. Each
living type has not been constituted once
The apparition of man considerably prior to Gen-
Astronomical experimentation, . . . .20
The s^^stem of Ptolemy. Origin of the system of
Copernicus, ....... 23
The system of Tycho-Brahe, .... 25
Kepler's illusions, ...... 25
Theory of Newton, 25
The diminution of the obliquity of the ecliptic is
an illusion, 27
The transcendental language of algebra has not a
prevailing right over the experimentation, . 28
CHAPTER IL, 29
Exposition of' the mechanism of our planetary
system, ....... 29
Earth does not circulate annually around the sun,
and the sun does not revolve around the earth, 29
The stars are subjected to a general movement
which carries them from west to east, . . 3-3
The seasons of the year, ..... 35
They have a duration proportional to the length
of the arc that earth describes in each of
them, ........ 35
CHAPTER HI., ....... 38
The precession of the equinoxes is not a move-
ment of the equinoctial points, as the astron-
omers say, ....... 39
It is the sun which retrogrades to westward in
every year, ....... 40
That has been the cause of the last universal
deluge, (Noah's deluge,) and of the duration
of our civil year, increasing from 360 to 372
days, yearly, in a period of 12,000 years, . 42
Action by the general movement of the stars, . 43
When the sun will have retrograded at degree
of Libra, the earth will stop. The sun will be
seen motionless at the point of the heavens
where it will be then, ..... 44
After that, the sun, the planets, the moon, the
stars will rise in the west and set in the east, 45
The day in which that phenomenon will take place
will be the longest of the period, ... 45
A burning heat of the sun will destroy the life in
the torrid and middle zones, ... 46
The populations of the countries now the most
advanced in the order of the civilization will
be obliged to take refuge in the regions of the
North Pole, . . .... . . 46
A new deluge will ravage the earth, ... 47
Afterwards, in course of time, a period of a bitter
cold will reign over the earth, ... 49
The Chaldean period of 432,000 years, . . 51
The Egyptian periods of 24,000, 30,000, 36,000
and of 11,340 years, ..... 52
The Brahminical periods of 1,728,000, of 1,296,000
and of 864,000 years, . . . . . 52
CHAPTER lY., 55
The moon, 55
The moon does not revolve around the earth, ac-
cording to the astronomers, .... 55
CHAPTER Y., 59
Sketch of the universe, 59
An unique plan, ....... 59
Milky way, ' . 60
A substance primordial, unique and infinite, the
origin of all what is, 66
Zodiac. — The zodiac is an immense belt; or circle,
which surrounds our sky. It is composed of two bands,
each band being about eight degrees in width. The
elliptic is situated between these two bands. The zodi-
acal circle circumscribes and embraces within it all the
annual orbits of the planetary bodies of our system. It
is divided into twelve signs, succeeding one another in
the following order :
1. Aries. 7. Libra.
2. Taurus. 8. Scorpio.
3. Gemini. 9. Sagittarius.
4. Cancer. 10. Capricornus.
5. Leo. 11. Aquarius.
6. Virgo. 12. Pisces.
Each sign is divided into 30 degrees, consequently
the entire circle of the zodiac contains 360 degrees.
Each degree is composed of 60 minutes, and each minute
is divided into 60 seconds.
The invention of the zodiac dates from the remotest
antiquity, and is lost in the night of ages.
Ecliptic. — The ecliptic is an immense circular plane,
which the sun, the earth, the other planets and the satel-
lites of our planetary system, travel over in their annual
Apogee is the point where our earth is at the greatest
distance of the sun.
Perigee is the point where our earth is the nearest to
o signifies degree, ' minute, " second.
99 degrees, 39 minutes, 22 seconds, are written so :
99^ 39' 22^
The origin of Astronomy goes back to an obscure period,
very anterior to the ages, that we call ante-historical. Till
that day, all the scientific data has been unable to carry us
further back than ancient Egyptian Astronomy. Neverthe-
less, the antique Astronomy of the Egyptian priests shows
such considerable developments, that they make us infer
many astronomical periods, of a long priority. Besides, the
state of the Egyptian acquirements do not correspond with
a primordial state. We must, then, sail down the stream of
numerous centuries, before reaching the time, in which we
can suppose Astronomy began to appear in old Egypt ; and
that time is itself a far back remote period.
In the sacred colleges of Egypt, the study of the heavens
was the object of a strong meditation, and of a scrupulous
and constant practice. The ambition of the members of
those sacerdotal institutes, at once priests and astronomers,
incited by the ignorance of a superstitious people, quickly
intimated to them the certainty of making themselves the
absolute masters of human conscience, in introducing their
science into the mysteries of divine worship ; and with that
intent, they were obliged, first of all, to captivate the na-
tional understanding. They could do it. It is by the pre-
cision and strictness of their astronomical method, that they
secured for themselves an authority, which grew up into one
of the most absolute that human tyranny has ever exercised.
The national spirit was dazzled to such a degree, that it
could not understand, nor even doubt, respecting the super-
natural power of their priests.
Everything was experimental and not speculative in their
science. That forecast was dictated to them by the fascina-
tion, of which they had foreseen the necessity of surrounding
their persons. Everything to them ought to be infallible.
Their experience had taught them to take heed not to make
any systematic speculation, but confine themselves strictly
to the acquirement of the movements of the celestial bodies.
They succeed in announcing the return of the heavenly phe-
nomena with such a perfectness, that in Egypt, nobody
doubted that an extraordinary power had been transferred
to them by the divinity, with which they had insinuated they
had connexions. That general belief put into their hands
an unlimited power and the riches of the nation.
Their oppression underwent different turns of a mischiev-
ous fortune, until the time when Cambyses governed that
country by right of conquest. Under his rule, the institu-
tions of the ancient Egyptian worship disappeared. The
sacerdotal caste was massacred. Nothing was left of the
ancient science but a few remnants, scattered here and there.
It is deeply to be regretted, that up to the present day, not-
withstanding all our researches, w^e have never been able to
form an exact idea of the elements of that antique science.
The revival of Astronomy in Egypt, brings us to an age
less distant from our own. After the death of Alexander
the Great, that country fell to the lot of Ptolemy Soteres,
one of the generals who had served under him. Ptolemy
Philadelphus, his son and successor, founded an academy at
Alexandria, to which the most distinguished philosophers of
Greece, gave, then, a world-wide celebrity. But, it is nec-
essary not to confound the doctrine of that comparatively
new school with the antique astronomy of the ancient
Egyptian priests, the principles of wdiich are lost in the
obscurity of a remote past, dimly defined.
The population of Alexandria was composed, at that time,
of Greeks, Egyptians and Jews. The perpetual contact
facilitated the fusion of the ideas. The Greek race was pre-
vailing, not in number, but by intelligence. Alexandria was
the rendezvous of the learned men and philosophers of all
The Alexandria School viewed the mechanism of our plan-
etary system with eyes of imagination, and gave birth
to a system impossible to be reconciled with the celestial
• movements. The middle ages having found it agreeing with
their creed, accepted it with closed eyes, as an auxiliary
which ought to be subservient to the demonstration of their
theology, and uphold it with the thunder of the church and
terror of the holy office. So, error continued its tyrannical
usurpation over a posterity of forty-six generations.
The long duration of its sway had secured for it, the pres-
tige of time that which its teaching had sanctioned. At that
age the philosophy was called the maid-servant of theology.
The faith which had been placed in this doctrine, was
eagerly brought forward as a most powerful argument
against the innovation, or more properly speaking, the ren-
ovation of Copernicus, at the time when the latter appeared.
This renovation was but a return to the chimera of Py-
thagoras, an odd dreamer, whom the numbers had half
demented. The doctrine of Copernicus, which the forget-
fulness of a remote past, then, kept in the obscurity of tra-
dition, is, at the present day, carefully surrounded by watch-
ful guardians. The academies have constituted themselves
its safeguards. They do not permit neither investigation,
nor contradiction about it. It is a sort of anti-scientific
While time has been the great maker of human science,
modern experience has been enlightened by a knowledge
more complete of the world, making use of science's power,
in order to bring the extinction of poverty happily about.
Man is able, in fact, by science to give to his progress a
select and required direction. Bacon has been the principal
organ of civilization by science. The utter deficiency in
scientific culture, is the slavery of the conscience, the super-
stition and abjection. It is sufiicient to visit the populations
debased by ignorance, in order to be convinced of that strik-
The physiologists have stated that the qualities, acquired
during several generations, ended by being transmitted with
the blood, and by passing to the state of instinct. The
characteristic state of features announces to the physiogno-
mist, the brutishness or the elevation of the mind. If some
generations turned their intellectual movements towards the
science, their faculties ^vould arrive to a regeneration of a
decided superiority, and the body would improve in beauty.
That mighty sovereign, in filling the thought with its grand-
eur, would make to them a habit of its dignity, of which the
nobleness should be reflected on the physiognomy.
But, so long as men who rule society, and families which
form it, are hostile to the progress, and continue to com-
pound with the passions, roused by usurped interests, through
fear or ambition, indigence will shut the doors of the teach-
ing to the most numerous class, and will maintain them in
the incapability of getting free from the slavery of the
senses and of the imagination ; such is the destiny that our
social organization tends to make to the destitute.
The destiny of man, of animal and plant, is determined by
an irrevocable law. But man has more than the animal and
plant — a social destiny.
Man, on his first entrance into life, brings with him his
destiny, good or bad; an invisible inherence, fastened to his
individuality, and only known by its efi'ects, which is sus-
ceptible neither of becoming more, nor of becoming less;
which remains inflexibly what it is, and by which he is en-
tirely mastered during his own life. The prayer and cry of
the distressed soul, asking for a less stern condition, is before
the destiny no more than a mere word, thrown to the wnnds.
It would be the same as to ask for a different size, or another
feature. What a prayer to be offered up to the immutable,
and consequently to the inexorable! Any sort of prayer,
any religious observance, any offering made to the Church or
to the churchman, cannot diminish the malignity of a bad
destiny, to the accomplishment of which man is driven by
the earth's fatal forces, of which the power exceeds his own.
Whether you go to the church or not, your destiny remains
irrevocably the same. We have consulted old men, com-
pletely destituted, in different times and in different places.
Every one of them declared to have prayed his entire life,
and to have been always overwhelmed with evils. Experi-
ence has ascertained these facts, against which the contesta-
tion is no more possible to the serious minds who seek only
for truth. Every link interwoven in the entire chain of beings
has been fixed forever by the law of nature, of which the
proper character is an absolute and universal immutability.
If nothing can prevail against the destiny made to us by
nature, we possess the faculty of redressing the destiny which
originates in social causes. But a happy social destiny can
be only the work of civilization, and this work of progress
will be fulfilled when humanity enters into the years of his
manhood. It is, in fact, civilization alone which can put a
term to our weakness and faintnesses which still humble our
The civilization, in giving to our moral faculties the
strength, the health and the continence, will make and pene-
trate into the heart of the social man a feeling of union in
the common efforts to maintain a salutary respect for the
law, and to human dignity as much as to the rights of the
citizens, and, by progressive series of modifications, will
identify the people with the practice of good, of labor and
Then may we not only lessen a bad social destiny, but to
extirpate it from society will lie in the power of humanity,
and even from this moment the social destiny leaves to us the
option of our proceedings. Eut a first choice carries along a
succession of unavoidable consequences. The option made
by the ignorance, influenced by the imagination, is com-
monly fatal to itself. The ignorance is the man turning the
mill, assimilated to the beast of burden ; it is the conscience,
led here and there by imaginary fears, robbed of his money
by means of gross deceptions, enslaved by preconcerted un-
truths of the ambitious castes, and blasted with abjection.
Even the reason without science is incapable. However
admirable that faculty may be made, it is given to us, by all
the possible ideas, by the experience of the senses. So all
that we know is the result of comparison of sensible things
which surround us.
Science, in cutting away ignorance and error, tends by its
light to make humanity master of truth, and to suppress
indigence and maladies, by shedding it over mankind. But
if we were comprising under the name of humanity th.e
immense majority of the half barbarous populations which
occupy the most extended part of our globe, we would be
obliged to look at the future as an illusive expectation. Let
us notice here that science expands only in its sphere of ac-
tivity, into which have entered these great nations that we
call the United States, France, England, Germany and Italy.
Science cannot see the destiny of humanity elsev.'here; and,
however, still now, in the midst of these enlightened coun-
tries, what a large share we must give to the unintelligent
multitude ! There, the class in which the thought and science
reign forms an imperceptible minority, and the class of the
ignorant, in which the superstitious barbarism of the imagina-
tion resists the knowledge of our age, is in an immense
majority. Imagination, that atrocious companion of man
which forsakes him but very seldom, is what has done the
most ill turns to him. It is the cause of the greatest dis-
asters which have crushed the individuals and families, and
of all the griefs and crimes which have dishonored the earth.
The knaves of every sort, looking for cozen, apply to the
That picture would be fit for taking from us all hope of a
better time, if we may not know by the examples of the past
that it is the very small minority which forms the class of the
cultivated thoughts, to which is always bestowed the initia-
tive of the movements which transform the world. In despite
of the enemies of knowledge, who dry up the good germs of
civilization, and of resistance of all usurpations, the science
passes with serenity over those impediments, fully convinced
there will come a day in which the social well-being of each
one and everybody will be realized by means of a progressive
series of improvements.
SYSTEMS OF PTOLEMY, OF COPERNICUS, OF TYCHO-
BRAHE, KEPLEk's LAWS, KEWTOx's THEORY.
Matter is eternal, immutable, universal and infinite ;
its laws are alike unchangeable, universal and eternal,
because they are no more than the properties of its inti^
mate essence. Matter and its laws are inseparable and
maintain eternally their same connections. They can
not perish no more than change. Their immortality
became a positive truth, since the modern discoveries of
chemistry. When, in the study of nature, it is looked
at the bottom of things with an absolute independence
of the impressions of the exterior life, such as prejudices,
party spirit, the self-interest and all passion hostile to
the reality of things, what fixes seriously our attention,
is the constant stability of these laws which are inherent
to the constitutive essence of matter. There is the
wherefore, nature does not permit miracle in its domain.
For, in order that a miracle might happen, it would be
necessary to annihilate before all that exists, matter and
worlds, and to create a new matter, provided with new
properties, suited for the required miracle ; and this
would be done for every new miracle thought needful.
The indefectibility of the universal laws, proves the
impossibility and nothingness of the miracle. The sav-
18 NEW ASTRONOMY,
age hordes, the ignorant populations of the mountains,
see miracles; the enlightened people, the centres of
civilization do not see any. The experimental obser-
vation of a positive science, shows the real existence of
that principle of the matter's immutability, so little
accessible to the comprehension of families, to whom the
imaginative intelligence, has taken away the liberty of
thought, or has imprisoned it in feelings, inspired by
illusions and chimeras. The intelligences over whom
the imagination has dominion, set a striking example of
incapacity to the power of observing.
Let us at this point of view and before exposing our
planetary system, cast a glance over the conditions of
what exists on the earth's surface, and it will be fol-
lowed by some rapid considerations about the teaching
of astronomy, that has been made in the preceding
An unceasing progress makes its work on the earth.
Science of facts, against which it is not possible to reply,
demonstrates peremptorily that every living type has
not been constituted once forever. The progressive de-
velopment of plants, animals and man, undergo trans-
formations which improve them since their appearance
on our globe. These transformations are brought about
obscurely, imperceptibly and slowly; but, if they are
slow, they are unceasing. If the organs in man are ad-
mirable, they are but unfinished; nothing in him is
definite. However, man of our days, is not to be com-
pared with the primitive man, of whom the normal state
was a savage state. Human craniums found pell-mell
with fossils of extinct animal species, show their anterior
pieces, in which the intellectual organs reside with a
hard bony thickness and soldered together. All further
NEW ASTEONOMY. 19
increase of the brain, and in particular of the gray mat-
ter, was then impossible. Such a cause of incapacity is
not seen, to-day, in the white race.
The apparition of man is considerably prior to Gen-
esis ; he was present at the geological evolutions which
preceded the actual state of the continents. Numerous
thousands of years have been necessary to bring man
out of the miserable state in which he stood before hold-
ing his conscience, and which made him take a decisive
superiority over his abject past. For^ in his primitive
state, incessantly occupied with his subsistence, he lived
after the manner of the beasts, in a continual activity,
that the sleep alone interrupted. If his fear before the
unknown, drove him to make his gods with the natural
phenomena which terrified him, and to which he was
making human sacrifices, he found also phenomena
which charmed him. These were his household gods.
Thus, from that period of the world, in which man
lived in the midst of a nature as savage as himself, if
we seek to arrive at the period, when a beginning of
progress left to him a time for the contemplative life,
we must get down a long flow of ages. But, even then,
the notions we have concerning the gradual develop-
ment of mankind, are no more than an imperceptible
portion of his true history. It is a very long while after
having reached a much more advanced state of reflection,
that man thought of couching his history in writing.
History is the youngest among the branches of §cience;
it goes back not beyond five thousand years, while ob-
servation dates far back to an obscure antiquity. But,
observation has never answered satisfactorily to the call
In the academy, at Alexandria, its philosophers were
20 NEW ASTKONOMY.
engaged in all manner of observations, and nevertheless
the imagination furnished the basis of all their deduc-
tions. The reality of things was wanting in their eru-
dition, and science remained in its infancy. Such a
past teaches us that observation, left to its own resources,
most generally, cannot escape the confusion of the ideal
and the real world. In fact, observation can only aver
the phenomena, such as nature shows them, involved in
the accessory incidents which misrepresent their law.
It has been indispensable, in our modern times, that
experimentation, accepting the observation for what it
is really worth, reached the bottom of the phenomena
in order to improve some branches of science, as we see
them in our days.
The experimentation introduced in science by chem-
istry and physics, which has pushed them on the prog-
ress to a high degree. Both, at the present time, are
very precious for the comfort of life, and of a great
utility for the arts and industry. The astronomy has
not taken so good an example. The speculative theories
obstruct still its way.
We cannot, indeed, assimilate for the method of ex-
perimentation, astronomy to chemistry. But, if chem-
istry has its crucible and its re-agents of analysis, astron-
omy has its instruments of j)recision and its special
method of experimentation. The experimentator-as-
tronomer can investigate the celestial phenomena, under
all their aspects, and make them pass through series of
combinations which will allow him to distinguish what
truly belongs from what does not belong to them. His
proceedings must assume the most penetrating criticism,
which will bring him to eliminate the foreign accesso-
ries and keep up the reality. It is, in separating what
NEW ASTKONOMY. 21
is true from what is deceptivej that he shall be able to
disengage from all delusive exterior the elementary
facts, and to lead them to their decisive simplicity, so
that their property can be seen undeniable. And, yet,
that condition is not sufficient for the exigencies of as-
tronomy. After having found the law sought for, it
must be referred practicably to the celestial movements,
and if it agrees with them, without any effort, but easily,
directly and with a clear precision, whatever manner
it be applied, it is, then, no more doubted that its re-
quested reality is shown by the light of evidence.
Simplicity and might are traits the most eminently
characteristic of nature, and by their simultaneousness
are a constant protest against our methods of mathe-
matical interpretation. Abstruse formulas have not yet
attained that degree of perfection which they are to
expect from its teachings. But, such is the deductive
force of prepossession, that we have abandoned to these
formulas, the guidance of our intelligence so far as to
bestow upon the prestige which they derive from our
credulity, the power of abusing it. Time, however,
which in no wise shapes itself to suit our ways of think-
ing, has not failed to belie the results of their indica-
tions, while it has, on the other hand, consecrated the
knowledge arising from experimental observation.
Abstruse formulas are the counterpart of those weari-
some controversies, which, in the days of Aristotelian-
ism, scholastic pride took glory in prolonging for several
hours at a time. Long displays of arguments were,
then, held in high esteem. Circumstances having be-
come changed, the turn of ideas took another direction,
and by contrary excess, all those questions, which ordi-
nary language could treat in a satisfactory manner, are
22 NEW astro:n^o]viy.
now discussed by means of formulas wliicli have become
remarkable for the affectation and emptiness of their
exaggerated brevity. These phraseologies, made up of
signs and words closely packed together by an artful
conventional contrivance, are better known to the ma-
jority of readers for their unintelligibility, rather than
for any advantage which has been derived from them.
Thanks to this equivocal argumentation, which favors
all and any speculation, the system of Copernicus,
brought itself into such repute as to be viewed only
through the eyes of faith, though it may have not a
single proof of its existence.
Modern astronomy don't understand even the doubt
about the hypothesis of Copernicus, who places the sun
in the centre of the planetary system, and makes the
earth and the other planets revolve annually around
that luminary. But, since the Kepler's laws were
known, the astronomers, while maintaining the doc-
trine of Copernicus, concluded with a remarkable una-
nimity, that the orbits of the earth and planets, were no
circles but ellipses. Their abstruse formulas and ana-
lytical researches have had no other aim than to repre-
sent the mechanism of the planetary system, so under-
stood, as a truth henceforward unquestionable, viz:
''that the jilanets revolve round the sun in the elliptical
orbits of tchich that luminary occiqnes the commoii
focus.^^ This system is now universally acknowledged
without any contestation. One must have robust faith,
indeed, to believe that ellipsis obtains, in the heavens,
properties that it could not have on earth.
The question is for us, neither to attack nor to uphold
that system by a mere spirit of prepossession, but to
seek for the reality without our mind made up in no
:^^EW ASTRONOMY. 23
wise, and without inclining our head before the decisions
of any authority, whoever this one may be. Our object
is to take the language of facts for umpire. Thus, it is
only necessary to trace the system of Copernicus back to
its source, in order to become convinced, that it origi-
nated from a tradition of chimeras.
But, first, we will look rapidly at the system of
Ptolemy. It was the opinion of the philosophers of
Alexandria, which gave birth to the false conception of
the sun and of the stars revolving daily around the
earth. Its most glaring defect, the impossible rapidity
with which it was necessary to suppose the sun and
chiefly the stars to be possessed in order to circulate
each day around the earth, had the power neither to un-
deceive the wisest men of the time, nor to check the
tyrannical domination of that doctrine during 2,000
years. It finally yielded its place to the system of
In 1507, the epoch in which Copernicus began to
meditate upon the system of Ptolemy, fifteen years had
elapsed, since the discovery of Christopher' Columbus
had revived the geographical studies. This revival was
a necessity, prescribed by the pressing difficulties of the
moment, and answered, then, in some respects, the am-
bitious views of the adventurous speculations of the time.
Stimulated by the exaggerations which fame had brought
from remote countries, reports, in passing from mouth to
mouth, extolled still more all that heated imagination,
according to its inventive powers, could fancy touching
those regions, as yet shrouded in mystery. The ocean
had not given the secret of its trackless paths, and pub-
lic curiosity, welcoming every account, endeavored to
probe for the truth which was wanting on all sides.
24 NEW ASTEONOJNIY.
The thirst of riches did not cease to create new expecta-
tions, and astronomy, in allowing the importance of its
aid to be perceived, received great eclat from the inter-
pretations that were set to its credit. It is not to be
wondered at, that these united causes should have in-
fluenced the decision of Copernicus, to whom the defects
of the Ptolemaic system afforded the opportunity of
striking a new route for himself.
Copernicus had read that Nicetas of Syracuse had
taught that the earth revolved upon its axis, and that
the doctrine followed by the Pythagorean school, placed
the sun motionless in the centre of the universe, and
caused the earth and the planets to revolve around that
Another system which he had found in the writings
of the ancients, had equally struck him. This latter
supposed Mercurius and Venus to circulate round the
sun, and caused that luminary. Mars, Jupiter and Sat-
urn to revolve round the earth.
His mind became divided between these two doctrines ;
he left time to decide w^hat, in the moment, he had not
the spirit to determine, which caused him to waver
thirty-five years between the two opinions. At last,
weary of having read over, meditated and often delayed,
he finally adopted the old Pj^thagorician idea of the im-
mobility of the sun in the centre of the system, and of
the circulation of the earth and planets around that
luminary. It is this system which bears his name and
which is prevailing now.
Under the influence of similar aspirations, Tycho-
Brahe thought it due his reputation to venture an as-
Although his work was that of the first observer of
I^EW ASTRONOMY. 25
his age, tlie oddity of its arrangement is shocking. The
ideas which prevailed in his time, caused him to imagine
a system, destined to conciliate his religious and astro-
nomical heliefs. Hence the immobility which he gives
to the earth and the motion which he supposed the
planets to describe round the sun, while that luminary
circulated with its whole train of attending planets,
round our globe. The system of Tycho-Brahe ended as
generally ends a doctrine of a too visible deformity.
Kepler having joined his theory to the hypothesis of
Copernicus, limited his observations to certain differ-
ences in the annual distances from the earth to the sun
and to Mars. Having followed exclusively the move-
ments of the latter planet, its alternate approaches and
withdrawals caused him to imagine that it described an
ellipse and not a circle. This illusion sufficed to induce
him to establish his theory, in which the orbits of the
planets were ellipses, of which the sun occupied the com-
mon focus. Astronomers have taken seriously the illu-
sions of Kepler for the real movements of the planetary
bodies, and hence has arisen a system that openly vio-
lates the laws of mechanics.
But, this is not all. An occult system of physics, re-
pudiated by every truth of mathematics as forcibly as by
good sense, viz : Newton's fantastic commentary of uni-
versal attraction, in which he did not himself believe,
has become the standard text, that explains the irregu-
larities of the planets, the inequalities of the moon,
the precession of equinoxes, all of them, vain appear-
ances without any reality, and moreover all the mistakes
in reference to the alternate movements of dilation and
contraction of the small axis of the elliptic orbit of the
earth, which they say maintained in the slightly devel-
26 NEW ASTRONOMY.
oped variations, reduce the variations of climate to very
The climates of the earth are, on the contrary, subject
to extreme vicissitudes.
These imaginary properties materially attached to a
fundamental principle, which is no more existent than
them, having left the theory of Newton in an incomplete
state, in reference to the explanation of the moving
mathematics of the heavens, he tried to fill that blank
by imagining : that the earth and the other planets
had, originally, received a primitive impulse; that each
of them possessed a centrifugal force, the tendency of
which caused, at every instant, to recede from the sun :
that this luminary had the power to retain them by a
centripetal force, which drew them toward its centre ;
that, from the opposition of these two forces, acting in
contrary directions, resulted the order which maintains
the annual revolutions of the earth and of the planets,
in elliptical orbits around the sun.
Let us see now the objection which is raised by the
most elementary and most evident law of mechanics.
The centrifugal and centripetal forces are two contrary
forces. It is certain, therefore, that they can only act
on condition of being unequal ; for, were they ecj^ual, they
would oppose an equal power to one another, and a state
of rest resulting, consequently, the earth would cease to
move ; on the other hand, were they unequal, one of
them would definitively gain an advantage over the
other, and w^hichever of the two forces proved the
strongest, the earth would either fall on the sun, or es-
cape from its orbit, and wander, at random, far from
Newton had so well foreseen this decisive objection
SEVr ASTB0X031Y. 27
that he allowed the following words, (which we give here
textual! y,) to escape him : " The centrijjetal and centrif'
ugal forces, heinrj equcd, would destroij the movement
of heavenly hodies ; unequal they icould jprodiice cha.os,
we must have recourse to the hand of GodP
Such a recourse is the unrealizable consequence of the
human imagination, since nature never allows a miracle
in its domain. The introduction of the supernatural
into science^ is the destruction of science.
There is, in the sun and in the planets, neither cen-
tripetal nor centrifugal forces. The stars or suns, in ad-
vancincr from west to east, cause our sun, the earth and
all the planetary bodies, to advance in the same direc-
tion. Our globe had no need of any primitive impulse
in order to be set in motion. If the sun came to be ex-
tinguished suddenly, the rotatory movement of the earth
around its axis, would diminish gradually, until it
stopped entirely, without causing any damage upon its
surface ; and if subsequently the sun recovered its power
of emitting light, the earth would resume immediately its
normal movement slowly and progressively.
ZSTot only modern astronomy is unable to reconcile the
orbits of to-day with those of past times, but even it does
not know the length of our civil year. Its almanacs
continue to give it the same length, although it aug-
ments, at each annual revolution, by a number of sec-
onds, proportional to that by which the orbit of the earth
increases. Kever is there a year of duration equal to
that of the one preceding or following it.
The diminution of the obliquity of the ecliptic, is an
opinion now established among the astronomers, and
they are convinced that a day will come, in which the
ecliptic and equator blended together, the sun will de-
28 NEW ASTRONOMY.
scribe the equator. Then, a prolonged spring will reign.
That diminution of the ecliptical obliquity, and the con-
sequences inferred from that false idea, are mere illusions.
Eratosthenes, Strabo and Ptolemy, in their day, saw
the sun reflected, at the summer solstice, in the famous
well of Sienna. That luminary, in our time, does not
even touch the edge of the well. But, these alternate
approaches and withdrawals of the sun which return in
our great period, do not, in any manner prove the dim-
inution of the obliquity of the ecliptic. If, now, the sun
progressively draws nearer to the earth in summer, in the
lapse of time, it will recede from it at that season, and
again will be reflected in the well, on the day of the
The most transcendent language of algebra, has no
prevailing right over the experimental observation. It
is whatever the opinion of him who employs it, chooses
to make it. Laplace^, almost the peer of Lagrange^ and
after him, the first mathematician of the age, has con-
structed his celestial mechanism, (mecanique celeste) in
huge quarto volumes full of calculations most difficult to
read. A work not of genius, but the colossal product of
a mathematical intellect of the first order. We must
crave pardon for thinking that observation, controlled by
the experiment, will cause its pages to be erased by pos-
terity astonished at our credulity.
EXPOSITION OF THE 3IECHAXISM OF THE PLAXETAEY
The sun^ the earthy the other planets and the satel-
lites advance in their orbits, each one, by a movement
invariably uniform. But, if we compare their move-
ments among themselves, it will be seen that they differ
one from another, every planetary body having its own
See Chart 1. The sun and the planets accomplish
their annual revolutions, proceeding from west to east,
around a common centre A^ which we will call planetary
This centre A is fixed and always stationary in the
same place, but only with respect to the bodies of our
planetary system, and not with reference to the endless
universe. All moves in the infinite.
The earth describes a circle in its annual revolution,
not around the planetary centre A, but around the point
B, situated not far from A. We will call the point B,
the centre of the terrestrial orbit.
This point B is not fixed. It describes a small circle
BCD and B^ around the planetary centre A, in a period
composed of twenty-four thousand years. This number
has been deduced from a formula, that the experimental
observations, with the help of time, had made known to
30 NE\y ASTEOisOMY.
More; here is an experimental observation^ made in
our time, which demonstrates, that the centre B of the
earth's orbit, circulates around the centre A, in ratio of
54 seconds, each year. In 1810, the perihelion of the
earth, (the point of the earth's orbit nearest to the sun,)
was in the direction of Cancer, at 99 degrees, 39 min-
utes and 22 seconds, east of the sign of Aries ; and the
centre B of the terrestrial orbit was consequently in the
direction of Capricornus, at 279 degrees, 39 minutes, 22
Since then the perihelion and the centre B of the
terrestrial orbit have advanced to the eastward. In
1865, the perihelion of the earth was at 100 degrees,
27 minutes, 58 seconds, and the centre B of the earth's
orbit at 280 degrees, 27 minutes and 58 seconds.
The perihelion could not have advanced to eastward,
if the centre B of the earth's orbit, on which this pro-
gression depends, had not advanced itself, 54 seconds
by year, in the same direction around the planetary
As the centre A of the orbits of the sun and the
planets, and centre B of the terrestrial orbit, occupy
two different phices in the space, it follows that the
orbit of the earth is eccentric with the orbits of the sun
and of the planets.
Owing to this eccentricity, the earth, in its annual
revolution, approaches the sun and the planets, and re-
cedes from them alternately.
The centre B of the terrestrial orbit is, at present,
situated near to Capricornus. For this reason it is that
we see the sun and the planets nearer to us, when they
are in that sign of the zodiac.
The diameter of the sun, having been measured ex-
:^EW ASTEONO:^rIY. 81
perimentally; the diameter of its disk was found to be
larger at the winter solstice (1955 seconds), than at the
summer solstice (1891 seconds), and still larger at the
vernal equinox (1928 seconds), than at the autumnal
equinox (1916 seconds). The sun can only appear
larger to us, when nearer to the earth, and smaller,
when farther from it. It becomes, therefore, evident
that the earth describes a circle, the centre of which is
nearer to the winter solstice (Capricornus), than the
summer solstice (Cancer), and nearer to the vernal equi-
nox (Aries), than to the autumnal equinox (Libra).
It is to direct experimental observation that we are
indebted for our knowledge. of the fact, that the sun
and the earth move, in their annual translations, from
west to east, according to the order of the zodiacal
signs, and these two spheres are always in correspond-
ing and diametrically opposite signs. When the sun is
in Aries, the earth is in Libra ; if the sun be entering
Cancer, the earth will be entering Capricornus ; if the
sun be passing through Libra, the earth will be passing
through Aries ; in nne, as the sun reaches Capricornus,
the earth reaches Cancer.
Let us now examine the order in which the Q-lobes of
our planetary system are situated, commencing with
the one nearest to the planetary centre A^ viz : the
Earth, Yenus, Mercury, the Sun, !Mars, Jupiter, Sat-
urn, Uranus. Thus, the orbits of the globes of our
planetary system circumscribe the orbit of the earth,
which is the smallest of them.
But there is an astronomical fact which proves that
the earth's orbit is the smallest one, and the nearest to
the planetary centre A^ among all the orbits of our
32 NEW ASTEONOMY.
When following the annual movements of the planets
— the nearest as well as the farthest from our globe — all
of them, without exception, are seen as if they stopped,
and then proceeded backwards towards the west, in a
direction contrary to the route they pursue. This false
appearance is what will enable us to confirm what we
have said, that the orbits of all the ]}lanets of our system
circumscribed that of the earth.
If several steamers are executing circular evolutions
on a lake — such as Lake Pontchartrain — around a centre,
the one nearest to that centre will describe the smallest
circle, and at certain contours of her route the other
steamers, seen from her decks, will appear as if they
receded and went backwards, although they did not
cease to advance. This false appearance has received
the name of retrogradation in astronomy. But from
the decks of the steamers farthest from the centre, the
one nearest to it and which describes the smallest circle
will never be seen retrograding.
The planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus have
received the name of superior planets. This appellation,
which serves to designate the fact that i\^ej are always
seen beyond the sun, indicates, in our system, that their
orbits circumscribe the solar orbit.
And since neither Mercury nor Yenus have ever been
seen beyond the sun, but both have always been observed
on the hither side of it, they have received the name of
The northern hemisphere of the earth points toward
the sign of Cancer, while the southern hemisphere is
inclined toward the sign of Capricornus. These two
inclinations in opposite directions are an effect of the
inclination of the earth's axis to the plane of the ecliptic.
KEW ASTPvONOMY. 83
We have said^ in the beginning of this chapter, that
the planetary centre A, contrarily to the centre B of the
terrestrial orbit, never changes its position in reference
to the orbits of the sun and of the planets. But, setting
apart this fixedness relative to our planetary system,
this centre A is borne along, with all its train of attend-
ants — the sun and the planets, including our earth and
the satellites — in interminable circumvolutions. The
planetary centre A passes no more, in all the eternity,
by the lieu of space, through which it will have passed
The stars or suns are subjected to a general move-
ment that carries them from west to east. They are
linked together by connections, the effects of which have
a living force. It is because they advance annually,
from west to east, by a certain number of seconds, that
they cause our sun and all the planetary bodies to circu-
late in their orbits in the same direction. But the latter
luminary causes the earth, the planets and the satellites
to revolve around their own axis. Whatever side in
which they may revolve round themselves, that is no
matter, since they are obliged by an immense force, far
superior to any other, to advance invariably from west
The duration o^ the seasons, is unequal for each of
them. The astronomers who have caused the earth to
revolve around the sun, agreeably to the Copernician
system, rendered the invention of the elliptical orbit
(i. e., of an oval form,) a necessary one, so as to account
for the alternate approach and withdrawal of the sun
during the year.
But, in order to appreciate how unsatisfactorily this
invention answered the purpose of astronomers, we will
34 NEW ASTRONOMY.
suppose the orLit of the earth to be elliptical, and the
sun to occup}^ one of its foci, as they say. Two lines
intersecting each other at right angles, at that focus,
would not divide the elliptical orbit into four arcs, the
length of which would correspond with the different du-
ration of the seasons. This explanation points out
materially the defect. The elliptical invention having,
thus, failed to solve the problem, astronomers had to
resort to the further desperate necessity of accelerating
the proper motion of the earth in some parts of the
orbit, situated near the winter solstice, and making it
more slow-going in the opposite points, situated near
the summer solstice, so as to reconcile their elliptical
orbit with the unequal duration of the seasons. This
explanation, we repeat it, rests on a material impossi-
bility, although firmly sustained b}^ the modern astron-
omers. A globe of which the movement would not be
constantly uniform, is non-existent, and cannot be, in
our planetary system, because this variation would vio-
late the law of the celestial mechanism, which nature
has settled with an absolute and universal determin-
ism. The length of every season can be only in accord-
ance with the length of the arc, that the earth describes
in its orbit during the duration of the corresponding
The sun is, in our planetary system, the dispenser of
light and heat. It regulates the seasons and the cli-
THE SEASONS OF THE XORTHEBX HEMISPHERE.
See Chaet 2. EE^ is the line of the equinoxes,
1\N^ the line of solstices.
If we suppose an imaginary straight line, EE^, to be
:t^ETr ASTKOXOMY. 35
drawn from tlie vernal to the autumnal eqniii:::, : 1
another^ JS^N'^, from tlie summer to the winter s :.-:: f.
these two lines will intersect each other, at right uz^Lfs.
and will divide the zodiac into four equal parts^ each
consisting of three signs^ and corresponding to one of
the four seasons, which the sun will traverse sneces-
sivelj;, in the course of the year. As these two lines
intersect each other at the planetary centre, A, it follows
that the centre of the solar and of the planet's orbits^
(except that of the earthy) and the centre of the zodiacal
circle, coincide with the centre, A.
But, such is not the case with the earth. Owing to
the place which the centre B of the earth's orhit occu-
pies, the arcs described by our planet, in the fonr sear-
sons, are unequal. The arc which it travels over in the
spring (of the northern hemisphere,) is less than the
arc that it traces in the summer, and larger than the arc
that it follows in the autumn ; the arc which it describes
in the winter is the smallest of all.
This is the reason why our spring is not so long as
summer and longer than autumn, and why winter is the
shortest of all our seasons ; the spring being composed
of ninety-two days and a fraction, the summer of ninety-
three days and a fraction, the autumn of eighty-nine
days and a fraction, and the winter of eighty-eight days
and a fraction.
It will be seen on Chart 2, that the relative propor-
tions of the seasons agree with the length of the arcs,
which the position of the centre, Bj of the earth^s orbit,
causes our globe to describe annually.
When the sun is passing through the three signs,
Aries, Taurus, Gemini, the earth is passing through the
three signs, Libra ^ Scoiyio^ Sagittariusj and we have
36 KET7 astrono:my.
spring in the northern hemisphere, (and autumn in the
southern hemisphere^) both seasons being of equal du-
When the sun is describing the three signs, Cancer,
Leo, Virgo, the earth is describing the three signs, Ccq^-
ricormis, Aquarius^ JPisces, and we have summer in the
northern hemisphere, (and winter in the southern hem-
isphere,) both seasons being of equal duration.
When the sun is traversing the three signs : Libra,
Scorpio, Sagittarius, the earth is traversing the three
signs : Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and we have autumn in
the northern hemisphere, and (spring in the southern
hemisphere,) both seasons being of equal duration.
When the sun is making its way through the three
signs : Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, the earth is cross-
ing the three signs : Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and we have
winter in the northern hemisphere and (summer, in
the southern hemisphere) both seasons being of equal
As we inhabit the northern hemisphere, and that the
progressive development of humanity has taken place,
from times immemorial, in that region of our globe, we
have taken the habit of appropriating to the seasons of
our hemisphere, the zodiacal signs which the sun is seen
to describe during each of them. But, in a book on as-
tronomy, the study of that science, must have in view
the astronomical laws which govern the whole of our
globe in its totality.
Should we examine attentively, the diametrically re-
versed order in which the seasons of the northern and
southern hemispheres correspond to one another, it will
be found that the inclination of the earth's axis is the
isTEW ASTE0X03IY. 37
cause of tlie greatest and smallest repartition of heat
upon both hemispheres in inverse ratio.
See Chart 5. E E is* the line representing the
plane of the ecliptic, seen side way. Fig, 1. When the
sun S enters the sign of Cancer, the northern hemis-;
phere, which is inclined towards that sign, nearly faces
our great luminary which, on that account, no longer
sets for the inhabitants of the north pole JV". It is, then,
summer for the septentrional hemisphere. But the south
pole J/, being situated opposite and inclined towards the
sign of Capricornus, is by that fact, deprived of the rays
of the sun. It is, then, summer for the septentrional
hemisphere. But the south pole M^ being situated op-
posite and inclined towards the sign of Capricornus, is,
\)j that fact, deprived of the rays of the sun. It is, then,
winter for the inhabitants of the southern hemisphere.
The full moon L sends always its brightness to the pole
which is not lighted by the sun. Fig. 2. Six months
later, the sun S arrives in the sign of Capricornus, and
the southern hemisphere being inclined towards that
sign, nearly faces, in its turn, the sun which no longer
sets on the south pole M, and ceases to rise on the north
pole iV, which is in obscurity. It is, then, summer for
the inhabitants of the southern hemisphere.
( harl :i.
THE PRECESSION OF THE EQUINOXES.
It has been observed that if at the vernal equinox
the sun had covered a star of the ecliptic, that star
would, 72 years later, be found on the same day one
degree to the eastward. This phenomenon is called im-
properly by the modern astronomers the precession of
the equinoxes. But in order that this result should
present all desirable certitude, it must be made certain
that a straight line drawn from the earth 72 years
earlier would pass through the centre of the luminary,
through the star, and through the planetary centre A.
We will here quote the explanation which astronomers
lay down to us as instruction :
^^The orbit of the earth," they say, ^^is an ellipse
which dilates in the sense of its smaller axis until it
becomes almost circular. At this point, the movement
of dilation becomes changed to a movement of contrac-
tion, and returns to its starting-point, to dilate anew in
the same order, and so on in succession. During this
time, the larger axis of the ellipse does not remain
motionless. It displaces itself and causes the ellipse
to pivot on its fulcrum, so that the same flattenings of
the ellipse do not any longer correspond with the same
positions of the larger axis, the proportions of which
change with each revolution. The complicated play
NEW ASTRONOMY. 39
of this mechanism is found to be in harmony with the
ways of nature, because the earth- describes its curve
under the influence of the diverse globes of the planet-
ary system which invite it in directions and at dis-
tances continually different. By the rotatory move-
ment of the line of the equinoxes, the equinoctial
points are displaced from east to west, and the plane
of the orbit of the earth varies by lowering and rising
alternately, accordingly as it obeys the movement which
causes it to turn from west to east."
This explanation is refuted by itself, on account of
the enormity of the complications and of the defect of
movements of a material impossibility. Is it conceivable
that savants could have imagined a so grossly improba-
ble mechanism ? Let us call to mind that they make
the larger axis of the terrestrial ellipse of 70 millions,
and the elliptical orbit of 540 millions of leagues. By
virtue of what very powerful force they pivot with all
their immensity on the fulcrum, and the earth passes, at
each moment, from one plan to another, from one ellipse
to a different ellipse ?
That is what the astronomers call the precession of
the equinoxes; but it is not, as they say, a movement
of the equinoctial points from east to west. The erro-
neous conclusions that they have drawn do not proceed,
as they believe it, from the movement of the equinoxes,
which never change their place for another, since they
are immutable. That phenomenon is caused by the
anticipation of the terrestrial meridian over the sun, at
each of their return to the same equinox.
It is certain that the sun, at each year, in passing the
vernal equinox, always intersects, at the terrestrial
equator, a point of some meridian whatever, which passes
40 . NEW ASTRONOMY.
there at tlie time; and that; if this luminary, in a pre-
ceding year, had intersected, at the equator, the point I\l
of a meridian, it would, in the next year, on its return
to the same equinox, intersect, at the equator, the point
N of another meridian, situated to the west of M. It is
evident that the point M has accomplished its return to
the equinox before the sun, and that dating from the
moment our luminary and the point iVhad occupied an
equal lapse of- time in reaching the equinox.
Thus the sun retrogrades to westward in every year.
But although this retrogradation be of a little time in
each annual revolution, (54 seconds,) small as it is,
finally introduces augmentations in the length of the
civil year that become considerable by the accumulation
of ages, and remove the sun very far from the vernal
equinox, so that this luminary must delay hours, and
afterwards whole days, in order to return there.
But a fact worthy of remark is that the intersection
of the terrestrial equator by the sun, at pojnts situated,
from year to year, further and further to the westward,
increases progressively the duration of our civil year.
Whence it follows that the return of the same equinox
cannot be subject to the immutable fixity of a day and
month constantly the same.
See the Chakt 4, Fig. 1. The sun being at the
vernal equinox E, intersects at the equator a point such
as Ji, of a meridian of the earth.
In the following year, the same meridian M comes in
the vernal equinox E, when has the sun as yet arrived
only at the point _E, so that it requires some time longer
to traverse the distance from R to E, But during this
short interval of time, the earth, not ceasing to rotate
upon its axis from west to east, brings forward another
:sBW ASTEONOMY. 41
meridian JV, situated westward of the meridian 21, that
arrives at the vernal equinox U simultaneously with the
sun^ where it is intersected, at the equator, by that
It is seen, then, that the sun delays, each year, in
effecting its return to the equinox U. Let us suppose
the sun in the vernal equinox, at degree of Aries, in-
tersecting, at the equator, the first meridian of the
present secular period ; the year will be composed of
Further on three thousand years, the sun will have
retrograded by 162,000 seconds or 45 degrees ; our lu-
minary will be in X, 15 degrees of Aquarius, and three
days more will be necessary, in order that it may return
to the vernal equinox U ; the year will have 363 days.
Four thousand years afterwards, the sun will have
been carried by its retrogradation, to F, 15 degrees of
Sagittarius, sixty degrees more to westward, and it will
require four days more of the sun, that it may accom-
plish its return to the same equinox U; the year will
have 367 days.
Five thousand years later, the sun will be, by its
retrogradation, in K, degree of Libra, 75 degrees more
to westward, and will use five days more in order to re-
turn to vernal equinox _£', and the year will be composed
of 372 days.
The star which we have seen in beginning that chap-
ter, as having advanced one degree to the eastward, is
one of the consequences of the retrogradation of the sun,
which carries this luminary more and more to the west-
ward, against the order of the zodiacal signs. This ret-
rogradation, in accumulating with the number of the
years, will become redoubtable by the magnitude of -the
42 NEW ASTEONOMY.
disastrous phenomena that it has caused and will cause
again. It is to that continual retrogradation, that we
must refer the antique devastation of the earth, hy a
burning heat, concluded by an immense cataclysm,
which wasted the earth. This formidable past allows
no doubt about the return of similar phenomena, since
the cause which brings them, perseveres in its action.
It is not, therefore, a study destitute of interest, that to
seek in ages yet to come, those in which the same disas-
ters will be brought forward again.
About 5,334 years ago, the sun and the earth met them
in the same side of the heavens, (at degree of Aries,
vernal equinox,) without ceasing to circulate each one
in its own orbit. The sun intersected, at the terrestrial
equator, the first meridian M of the secular period, in
which we are. This proximity of the sun and of the
earth, at their maximun, occasioned the most awful dis-
asters in increasing more and more the solar heat on our
globe, during several centuries. The temperate zones
and the equatorial regions were reduced to have no more,
either animals or plants under the long action of a burn-
The extreme and constant heat could not persist with-
out acting, at the same time, on the seas which over-
spread the greatest part of the terrestrial surface. It
caused an immense evaporation of a long duration, for
all, relative to the powerfulness of the cause. When, in
course of time, the sun was removed from the earth by
the continuity of its retrogradation, the vapors, heaped
up the atmosphere, condensed, and the great waters were
precipitated on the earth, under the form of rain, with
an excess of fury and greatness, w^iich since has never
been equaled. They gave rise to the universal cata-
NEW ASTRONO]MY. 43
clysm, known by the name of Noali's deluge. It toolk
place when the sun was in Pisces^ at 26 degrees, about
5,050 years ago.
From year to year, the sun intersecting the terrestrial
equator, more and more to the westward, lengthens pro-
gressively the duration of our civil year, by two days for
every sign of the zodiac, all along of which it will have
retrograded from the vernal equinox, so that our civil
year, which had comprised 360 days, when* our luminary
was in the vernal equinox, will be composed of 372 days,
when the sun, after having retrograded by the signs
of the zodiac, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricornus, Sagitta-
rius, Scorpio, will have passed into Libra. The sun
afterwards will retrograde from the autumnal equinox,
(Libra,) by the signs : Virgo, Leo, Cancer, Gemini,
Taurus, till to Aries, and the civil year will diminish
progressively of the same quantity of days, with which
it will have increased in number ; so that, our luminary,
in reaching the vernal equinox, the year will have only
360 days, as in the beginning of this secular period.
We have already said that, the stars or suns are sub-
jected to a general movement that carries them from
west to east; that, it is because they advance from west
to east, that the stars which are the nearest our planet-
ary system, cause our sun, all the planetary bodies and
the centre B, of the earth's orbit, to describe their an-
nual course by the same direction ; but, that the sun was
making by itself, our earth to revolve daily around its
axis. We repeat that for the better intelligence of what
is to follow. So that, it be plainly understood that the
earth makes its diurnal rotation around its axis, in the
direction which depends on the side, whence the sun acts
44 NEW astro:xo:my.
When our luminary will have been carried by its ret-
rogradation to Libra, it will have met, at 180 degrees of
Aries, at autumnal equinox and behind the earth, the
first meridian M, which it will have intersected in front
of the earth, twelve thousand years before at the vernal
equinox ; so that the right in Aries will become the left
See Chaet 4^ Fig. 2. Be the sun S in Aries, at
degree, intersecting the meridian J/, twelve thousand
years after, the sun S 2 being in Libra will intersect the
same meridian J/ 2, at 180 degrees from Aries and be-
hind the earth. The situation of the sun S 2 will be
quite the reverse of what it was, at the vernal equinox,
in the beginning of the period. The sun S 2, therefore^
will act in contrary directions to that it had set in the
diurnal rotation of the earth. Our globe will yield to its
powerfulness, and. instead of revolving around its axis as
before, from west to east, it will revolve from east to west.
The very moment, then, in which the sun will retro-
grade to westward, beyond degree of Libra, its rays
will act immediately upon our globe in a contrary direc-
tion. The movement of the earth will be slackened, and
will decrease progressively in order to cease afterv\'ards,
without any disorder, by virtue of what the movements
of our planet, are common to all the objects which are
on its surface. We can compare the discontinuance of
its movement to that of a steamer which slackens more
and more before ceasing to move.
Men will witness a celestial phenomenon very curious.
When the earth will have stopped, the sun will be seen
motionless and fixed at the same point of the heavens,
and after that stationary state of some interval of time,
just as the earth will resume by little and little a con-
^'E^ ASTEOXOMY. 45
trary movement of rotation^ they will see the sun mov-
insT a^ain. but risinor on the horizon instead of cpoinsr
down. The sun, the planets, the moon, the stars will
rise in the west, and will set in the east.
The day, in which that phenomenon will take place,
will be the longest of the period. There will be, in that
day, two consecutive noons in the countries the meridian
of which, the sun will have passed, and two consecutive
midnights at the antipodes.
]S"ow the movement excessively slow, but continually
progressive of the center B of the earth's orbit,, brings
our planet nearer to the sun in summer, and withdraws
it in winter. Before this tendency reaches its limits,
winter will have disappeared. The increasing proximity
of the sun in summer, will gradually heighten the tem-
perature of the middle latitudes. They will have for
several centuries a continual spring, and after that, the
climate of the torrid zone. They will produce abun-
dantly every kind of fruits, either of Europe and of
But the summers and their days, i»ecoming longer
and longer, will render the torrid and temperate zones
uninhabitable. TVe conceive that the sun, after having
met the earth, at the autumnal equinox, will be in the
same side of the heavens, and that, in summer, this
luminary and our globe, in their annual revolutions,
will pass together through the signs of Cancer, of Leo
and Yirgo, at a distance from one another, smaller by all
the diameter of the terrestrial orbit ; and if we take
into consideration that the north hemisphere is inclined
towards the Cancer, we will have an idea of the burning
heat which will destroy the life in the torrid and tlie
46 NEW ASTRONOMY.
At the same time, a mild temperature will have been
substituted for the penetrating cold of the polar regions,
where the ground is now frozen to the depth of one
hundred feet below the surface. Property of nature,
which is preparing, in the silence of those solitudes of
snow, the j)rodigious fertility which they will have, when
the rays of a nearer sun, will come to vivify them
It is toward these regions, now icy cold, that emigra-
tion will, then, remove from all quarters, as it once
rushed before the Mosaic Deluge, toward the south,
where the fugitives of our race found safety in the high
mountain ranges. The veneration which the Asiatic
people professes for the high mountains, explains the
recollection of the ancient azilum, preserved by tradi-
tion, and consecrated by religious sentiment.
The Mosaic deluge took its rise in the north-west;
the next southern deluge will proceed from the south-
east to the north-west, in about 6,900 years, when the
sun, after having retrograded through the meridional
signs, shall stand in 26 degrees of Virgo.
We have already said that the increasing proximity
of the sun to the autumnal equinox, will smite with death
all the living beings under the torrid and in the tem-
perate zones ; that it will dry up the water-courses, will
empty the largest rivers, and by its incessant ap-
proach, will menace our latitudes with a general confla-
gration. The waters, it will be, that will save the world.
The ocean will be evaporated in mass, in an atmosphere
that will extend itself, from day to day, in greater alti-
tudes, by virtue of its expansion by heat. This evapo-
ration will be not accomplished by an instantaneous act,
but with a regular order of progression from which na-
NEW ASTRONOMY. 47
ture never departs. These vapors, which will be heaped
up in clouds, will be able to intercept the burning action
of the solar rays. The rain which is always ready to
pour down from the extreme limits of the atmosphere,
being continually evaporated afresh, will re-ascend to the
uppermost zones, before reaching the lower ones, which
the radiation of a blazing soil will render peculiarly apt
to generate vapor.
When the continual retrogression of the sun will with-
draw it from the earth, these ponderous collections of
water, transformed into clouds, will lose a considerable
portion of their heat. This lowering of temperature
will commence in the upper regions of the atmosphere.
The waters that will be the highest up, in descending
toward the earth, and passing through the inferior re-
gions, will cool them, and the condensation will become
general. The ocean will precipitate itself in its immen-
sity, under the form of rain. It will be a torrent-like
descent, accompanied by tempests of unparalleled sub-
limity. Terrific winds whirling around the earth ; con-
flagrations of lightning, in a state of permanence,
tearing in its whole extent a maddened atmosphere.
On the surface of the planet, volcanic eruptions, explo-
sions of internal convulsions and earthquakes agitating
the crust of the globe, already tossed by the billows of
an appalling flood. Murderous phenomena of a tempest
matchless in terror ! Men will have no words to de-
scribe the boundless and universal sweep of its awful
'No element of destruction will be wanting to this
grand cataclysm. The impetuous waters, tossing thou-
sands of feet above the continents, will rush headlong
over them, sweeping away forests, tearing open valleys,
48 NEW ASTEONOMY.
hollowing out abysses and accumulating ruin and death
pell-mell, in tlieir passage.
It will readily be concerved that in this fall of the
seas, they will detach from the polar mountains and the
glaciers, blocks and bergs of ice of all dimensions, some
of which will be many hundred feet in length, breadth
and thickness. This fact, established by the testimony
of the last cataclysm, admits that sand, rounded pebbles,
and enormous fragments of rock, (erraj:ic blocks,) must
be caught up with these masses, in the same manner as
similar substances are embedded in pur modern glaciers.
These floating islands of ice will be swept onward by
the violence of the current ; in some places will be dashed
to pieces by their concussion against obstacles that will
resist sufficiently to bar the way, such as chains of moun-
tains, and will cover their slopes with fragments, else-
where crushing the peaks of the less lofty eminences,
grinding their salient points away, and furrowing their
summits with the spurs of the hard rocks projecting from
By degrees, as the melting of the ice will go on, the
heavy bodies which it will have held fast with it, the
sand, the rounded pebbles and the erratic blocks will be
abandoned to their own weight, and range themselves
in the direction of the currents, on the flanks of the
mountains, on the hills, on the table-lands and on the
There is no doubt that the earth has been ravaged by
several deluges. However, our globe only presents on
its surface the evidence of the two last ones, written
thereon in fadeless characters. The current of the most
recent one, or the Mosaic deluge, has marked its passage
from the north-west to the south-east. The discernible
NEW ASTRONOMY. 49
traces of the other one, which occurred one hundred and
twenty centuries earlier, may be recognized on a line
that runs from the south-east to the north-west.
On the surface of the earth there are elevations and
depressions where the waters tend to flow off ; but rel-
atively to the astronomical position of our globe, there
is no upper or lower point. The southern hemisphere
appears to us to be lower than we are, while to its inhab-
itants our hemisphere appears to be under their feet.
It is with ease that we can convince ourselves that if
the marks of the passage of the Boreal or Mosaic deluge
can be plainly traced from the north-west to the south-
east, similar marks left by the Austral or Southern
deluge, are no less visible from the south-east to the
north-west. We have but to reverse the map of the
world, so that the south shall be at the top, and the
north at the bottom, with the eastern coasts of the
Asiatic Continent where the western coasts of the Euro-
pean Continent usually are. This process allows us to
perceive, instantly, that the water-chafed shores of the
eastern part correspond with the similarly corroded out-
lines of the western portion, and that they resemble no
other. There will be seen a conformity of features jut-
ting out, the same essential depressions, like indenta-
tions of the land by the sea, resemblances of form in
the configuration of the soil, analogous prolongations of
wrecks, sharp and scalloped capes and headlands, turned
in a sense coinciding with the direction of the two dilu-
vian currents which, starting from the two opposite
extremities of the globe, have left the marks of their
passage in two contrary directions.
About fifty-seven centuries later, the sun will be, in
winter, at its greatest distance from our hemisphere.
50 NEW ASTKONOMY.
The winters and the nights will be extremely long and
cold ; the summers and the days of short duration, and
by no means warm. The Europe will have a biting
climate ; the icebergs of the pole will invade even its
Southern countries, and yet more the meridional lati-
tudes in the North America.
This period of a bitter cold will be of a long duration ;
it will terminate as it began, by abundant and continual
rains. These will not cease to fall until such time as
the sun again approaches by its retrogradation the sign of
Aries. The temperate zones will pass again through all
the degrees of heat, to the burning climate that will
render them uninhabitable. The same disastrous phe-
nomena will be renewed, and another northern deluge,
setting out from the north-west toward the south-east,
will submerge the earth.
The more or less confused traditions that we possess
concerning the antiquity, tend to create the supposition
that they go as far back as the migrations caused by
the great cataclysms, which have by turns ravaged the
earth. But, not any tradition carries us back to the
obscure period in which these people began entering
Our time, which is an age of investigation, begins to
take off the veil of a past nearly infinite. We would be
obliged to go back to hundreds of thousands years in
order to re-ascend to the former societies. For, the nor-
mal state of the primitive .man, was a ghastly savage
state. How many series of thousands years, he had
passed through that animal life, before to be organized
in society, and hov/ much other series of thousands years
he had passed before to think of writing his own history
which is only an imperceptible part of his true history !
KEW ASTEONOMY. . 51
Man has been present at tlie climacteric and geological
evolutions, which have made their work with the help of
millions of years. In the ancient alluvions, belonging
to the quaternary epoch, there have been taken out fos-
sils and extinguished species of animals, human bones,
found with remains of mastodons and rhinoceros, hatch-
ets, points of arrows made with si lex, and thousands of
specimens of the primitive industry, which bear the in-
disputable mark of man's hand. In considering the
past under that point of view, we are allowed to state,
thafc the community of astronomical ideas among the old
nations of the antiquity, must proceed from an anterior
antiquity. However, the state of minds to which the
origin of that community answers, is not a primordial
The Chaldean period of 432,000 years, and the period
of 30,000 years which the Egyptians counted from the
commencement of Typhon to the death of Osiris, are
generally known. The chronologist, to reconcile these
enormous accumulations of years with the exigencies of
their systems, have some of them, taken each year to
mean a day, and others a lunar month. It will be seen
by the dissertations to which these periods have given rise,
that opinions vary as to their duration. The generally
accepted view in our time, fixes the Chaldean period at
432,000 days, and the Egyptian period at 2,424 solar
years. In the colleges, a totally different interpretation
prevails. There, they are treated as fables, invented by
national vanity, to push back beyond reasonable limits,
the antiquity of the political existence of Chaldea and
Egypt. This explanation refutes itself, if we consider
that these long periods are found precisely in the reci-
tals of those races who studied astronomy. The 432,000
52 KEW ASTRONOMY.
years of the Chaldeans^ and the 30,000 of the Egyptians
are nothing but astronomical formula.
Tlie priests of Chaldea and Egypt, it is known, com-
municated the real meaning of their scientific formula to
the descendants of the sacerdotal families, whom they in-
structed in the sacred colleges. But, they concealed it
studiously from the crowd and from the strangers, or
presented their calculations to them only under allegori-
cal forms. This reserve was dictated to them by the
policy of self-preservation, because it guaranteed to
them, that proud supremacy from which flowed all other
The Chaldeans related that, during their period of
432,000 years, ten of their kings, of whom the first was
Alorus, and the last Xisuthrus, reigned 10,000 years.
That Xisuthrus saved himself, his family and the alpha-
bet in a ship when the deluge commenced.
But, before coming to a solution of this problem, the
one of a rare simplicity, we would remark that the dif-
ferent periods of the ancient nations, which have prac-
ticed the astronomy, are but subdivisions or multiples of
the Chaldean period. The Egyptian period of 36,000
years, multiplied by 12, gives 432,000, as the product.
The other periods of Egj^ptians, of 30,000 years multi-
plied by 14. 4, and of 24,000 years multiplied by 18, re-
produce 432,000. The Brahminical period of 1,728,000
years divided by 4, and the other period of 1,296,000
years divided by 3, give the Chaldean period for a quo-
tient. Finally, their period of 864,000 years, is the
double of 432,000.
So unanimous an accord between the astronomers of
high antiquity, as to the combined movements of the
sun and the earth, could not be due to chance.
NEW ASTRONOMY. 63
The method of calculating the number of seconds by
which the first terrestrial meridian, at the beginning of
the secular period, annually diverges from the centre of
the sun, at the vernal equinox, discloses to us the man-
ner in which the ancients turned their formula to ac-
count. It is plain they took as the bases of their calcu-
lations, the fundamental year of 360 days, and that they
added to it quantities of time proportional to the num-
ber of seconds by which the meridian had withdrawn
from the sun. In this way they had the means of in-
stantly finding the number of seconds by which to
express with exactitude the length of the tropical year.
Thus, the terrestrial meridian, coinciding with the cen-
tre of the sun, at the vernal equinox, diverges from it
as follows :
432,000 seconds .
43,200 seconds .
4,320 seconds .
432 seconds .
43.20 seconds .
in 10,000 years of 360 days,
in 1,000 years of 360 days,
in 100 years of 360 days,
in 10 years of 360 days,
in 1 year of 360 days.
But, the experience of time, having instructed the
Egyptians, that these numbers corresponded not exactly
with the course of the celestial phenomena, because they
were too short, they invented the period of 11,340 years,
of which the subdivisions agree better with the move-
ment of the stars along the ecliptic.
The priests disguised that formula beneath lengths of
time, intentionally exaggerated, which concealed some
circumstances of their own history, and moreover, they
expressed it, not with integral but with fractional num-
ber, in order to render the sense inexplicable to unini-
64 NEW ASTEONOMY.
The fundamental basis of that formula, rests on 54
seconds per year.
54 seconds . . in 1 year.
540 seconds in 10 years.
5,400 seconds ... .... in 100 years.
54j000 seconds .in 1,000 years.
540,000 seconds in 10,000 years.
612,360 seconds (or 170 deg. 6 min.) . in 11,340 years.
The moon does not revolve around the earth; as the
modern astronomy says ; because if it was so, the eclipses
of the sun would begin by the oriental part of that lumi-
nary, and end to the west; absolutely the contrary of
what is observed.
But, the moon accompanies the earth, from west to
east, in her annual revolution. Her apogee and perigee
take place indifferently when she is new, full, or in her
Apogee signifies the point of the moon's orbit the
farthest from the earth; and perigee the point of the
moon's orbit nearest the earth.
At the summer solstice, the moon may be at perigee,
when she is new, and at apogee when she is full.
At the winter solstice, she may be at apogee, when
she is new, and at perigee when she is full.
From this regulation may be deduced the general
characteristics of the whole plan : that, the moon, in her
movement of annual translation, makes excursions on
each side of the terrestrial orbit; that, these excursions
are included within two circular limits, concentric with
the centre of her orbit, and beyond which she never
passes ; that, the orbit of the earth being eccentric to
these two circular limits, our vision may allow itself to
56 NEW ASTRONOMY.
be surprised by deceptive perspectives, and thereby
assign to the movements of the moon, which are con-
stantly uniform, and alwayfe in the plane of the ecliptic,
inequalities that do not exist; in fine, may subordi-
nate the judgment to the errors of a system of false
See Chart 5. A is the centre of the planetary sys-
tem ; B the centre of the earth's orbit, and C the centre
of the orbit of the moon.
The centre C of the moon's orbit, is not fixed ; it de-
scribes around the planetary centre A, the small circle
C D E and C, which it completes, at the same time that
the centre B of the terrestrial orbit accomplishes its rev-
olution around the planetary centre A.
The interior dotted circle WWWW designates the
limits attained by the moon, when she is new, or nearly
so, or shortly after she has been so.
The external dotted circle XXXX indicates the limits
reached by the moon when she is full, or nearly so, or
shortly after she has been so.
These two dotted circles are parallel, and have the
point C for a common centre.
This centre C cannot coincide with the centre B of the
terrestrial orbit, because the moon is sometimes nearer
and sometimes farther from the earth.
Neither can the centre C coincide with the planetary
centre A^ because the order- of the phenomena would be
reversed. For, the moon being full, at the summer sol-
stice, instead of being at apogee, would be at perigee,
and so near the earth, as to shut out the heavens from
our view ; and again, in being full, at the winter solstice,
instead of being at perigee, she would be at apogee, and
would go beyond her limits, to a considerable distance
XEVv" ASTHOXOMY. 57
from the earthy and cause us to beliold her witli a diame-
ter 2iiucli smaller than the one now visible to us.
The eccentric circle EO EO EO represents the orbit
of the earth ; it intersects unequally the track of tlie ex-
cursionS; made by the moon^ on each side of it. The
track of the excursions made by the moon^ is indicated
by the letters J/J/JZ
At the summer solstice^ the sun SI is in the sign of
Cancer, the earth F in the sign of Capricornus, or very
near, and the moon J\^ is full and at apogee.
At the winter solstice, the sun S2 is in the sign of
Capricornus, and facing the earth P2 and the moon X2
which is new and at apogee.
Now, since we have traveled over a large portion of
the earth's surface, we are acquainted with the fact, that
the north and south poles have alternately, a day and a
night of six months' duration ; and that, when the sun
lightens one of the poles, the moon shines over the one,
which would remain, otherwise into a complete obscurity.
In this manner the inhabitants of our planet, never suf-
fer from the total absence of the radiations of our two
great luminaries. These results are indebted to the in-
clination of the terrestrial axis.
See Chart 3. Fig, 1. FE is the line of the plane
of the ecliptic, seen sideways. The sun S is in the sign
of Cancer, at the summer solstice; its rays BR shed
their light upon the north pole A" of the earth, and leave
the south pole j\I in obscurity. The moon L shines upon
• the south pole iJ/, and remains invisible to the inhabi-
tants of the north pole A^, as can be seen by examining
the dotted lines FF. This figure represents also the
summer of the northern and the winter of the southern
58 NEW ASTRONOMY.
Fig. 2. EE is the line of the plane of the ecliptic seen
sideways. The sun S is in the sign of Capricornus, at
the winter solstice. Its rays RR lighten the south pole
M, and leave the north pole N in obscurity. The moon
L sends her rays PP, upon the north pole JSf, and can-
not be seen by the inhabitants of the south pole M,
This figure represents the winter of the northern and
the summer of the southern hemisphere.
Another source of illusions, to which we persistently
revert, is the inclination of the earth's axis upon the
plan of its orbit. It is well understood that in conse-
quence of this inclination, our northern hemisphere is
inclined toward the sign of Cancer and that, on the op-
posite side, the southern hemisphere is inclined toward
the sign of Capricornus. Still, the knowledge of this
fact does not prevent from continuing to place the true
north of the planetary system, very near the polar star,
which is situated not far from the direction of the end
of the earth's axis, which passes through the Arctic Pole,
and that this axis points towards a region other than the
In order to determine the place of the true north, it
would be necessary to mentally erect the earth's axis
perpendicularly on the plane of the ecliptic, to displace
the earth and carry her far from her orbit, in such man-
ner, as to place her axis on the centre of the planetary
system. Nothing can be more decisive than this con-
clusion, since it is a geometrical consequence of the local-
ity of the earth and of the position of her axis. Thus,
contrary to the generally received opinion, the polar star
is remote from the north and does not indicate it.
SKETCH OF THE UXIVERSE.
All the spheres in the universe; are linked together
by unlimited connecting influences. Although it' may
not appear likely, that science will ever be able to em-
brace the whole of that awful immensity, still, some cul-
minating points may serve it for resting-places, on the
way, by the aid of which to penetrate into the nearest
regions of this inextricable infinite. But, this will be
on condition that we divest ourselves of every idea of
size and distance, and become thoroughly imbued with
the reflection, that the mechanism of infinity recognizes
nothing but proportions. A luminary which is situated
at hundreds of thousands of leagues from us, overwhelms
our mind with the bare statement of its distance, be-
cause we compare this remoteness with the data that
surround ourselves. We rarely think of laying aside this
irrational habit, which imposes such arbitrary conclu-
sions upon us, through the sensations that we receive
from our manner of viewing the largeness, the small-
ness, the nearness and the distance of things.
The arrangement of the spheres is subjected to the
mathematical laws of an unique plan, determined by a
physical system, that is essentially universal. The law
that governs our planetary world, is indicated by analogy
in the other regions of the heavens. Every thing is
60 XEW ASTROXOMY.
there forcibly brought under a common discipline. Xa-
ture, far from being subdued by the innumerable divert
sities which-she comprises, subjects them on the contrary,
to yield to her government, with so absolute a firmness,
which she exercises strictly on the largest of worlds
as well as on the grain of sand. She never runs a risk.
She knows so well how to ally her prodigious fecundity
to the requirements of every destination ; she throws
such a variety into all the forms, she fashions, and dis-
poses them with such a delicacy of adjustment, the pro-
portions are matched with so imperceptible shades, and
the more salient touches of true harmony ; she excels to
conjoin the portions with firm and tenuous bands, and
with the help of time, to make them concur to the unity
by a regular and sure action, that if the spirit of investi-
gation has not reached the general cause of her works,
an attentive meditation fails not of discovering to us, a
plan realized with an incomparable art, which strikes
the understanding by the infinite of its combinations as
much as sur2Dasses it by the transcendency of its sim-
That whitish glimmer of irregular form which makes
the turn of our heavens, is known by the name of milky
way, and more generally by the popular name of Saint
James way. Its milky appearance is caused by compact
masses of stars, the light of which reaches us, destitute
of its brightness on account of their enormous distance.
All the stars that we see on this side of its limits, and
our planetary system, belong to this prodigious agglom-
eration of celestial bodies. The sun, the earth, the
other planets, and the satellites are situated near its
It is said, too, that the diameter of our sun is nearly
NEW ASTRONOMY. 61
four times larger than the distance from the earth to
the moon^ that is, about 315,000 leagues. But, the
milky way includes more considerable stars. Por, they
cite the star Sirius, as a sun 2,688 times larger than our
One thousand millions of planetary systems may be
accorded to that galaxy, in which we are included. The
stars or suns seem to lie close together, on account of the
incalculable distance where they are from us. But, in
that case, analogy leads us to conclude that these suns
must be separated from each other, by distances as great
as that which separates our sun from the nearest star.
These measureless deserts, placed as so many barriers
between all planetary systems, are a physical necessity
to secure their geometric independence.
The one thousand millions of suns that our galaxy
seems to comprise in its domain, light probably fifty
thousand to eighty thousand millions of planets or
earths, among which, considerably larger than ours ought
to be. Each of these worlds must have its specialties,
its lands, its sky, its sceneries, its millions of inhabit
tants. These are probabilities which we offer to the
We know that, in the universe, our galaxy is not one
alone of its specie, and that there are other galaxies, the
number of which increases at each improvement of the
telescope. To whatever height, to whatever depth, we
may bear our investigations, everywhere myriads of gal-
axies overspread deep abysses with their lights. But,
even these prodigious transcendencies which completely
abash our intellects by the magnitude of their dimen-
sions and the multiplicity of their number, dwindle in
contrast with the still sublimer grandeurs placed beyond.
62 NEW ASTRONOMY.
They become smaller and smaller as we advance; and
are lost; at last, by tbeir own diminutivenesS; in the same
manner, as the formidable structures that succeed and
surpass them, disappear in the presence of the still more
surprising regions, which the continuity of the universe
unfolds to us.
All these vitalities of light and motion, which the
most amazing number cannot represent, are linked, in
still more distant regions, to vertices of suns that open
to us new fields, where life has ever other surprises in
reserve for us. We should grow weary of pointing out
the splendors of nature long before she ceased to exhibit
them. Her fecundity has no limits.
Borne in spirit along with this appalling current, we
contemplate the evolution of a cycle rolling away upon
accumulations of cycles, the duration of which paralyzes
all our resources of measurement, even those that are
approximative with the number of its incalculable peri-
ods. Let us not attempt to record beyond this limit the
number of the culminating year of the universe. We
look around for that number in vain ; it is nowhere to
be found. This lapse of duration which moves us so
profoundly, contrasted with the eternity assigned to the
existence of worlds, is but the sound of the clock that
dies away with the parting hour. The thousands mil-
lions of centuries are not wanting to time, and the thou-
sands millions of worlds are not wanting to the universe.
Shall we presume to have recourse to the magnifying
power of our instruments, in order to keep pace with
infinity? Were we to make our telescopes magnify
millions of times m.ore than those already at our disposal,
what should we discover when w^e scanned the heavens
with them? Further aggregations of suns, forming an
' XETT ASTEOXOMY. 63
immense vault of scintillating nres above our lieads.
which the visual ray cannot penetrate. And. although
abysses of darkness, hundreds of millions of leagues in
extent, separate these suns from each other, their per-
spective would still be hidden from our view by the accu-
mulation of the celestial splendors.
There, in the presence of these, firmaments ablaze with
light, no apparatus however perfect, intended to assist
human vision, could pursue the course of our investiga-
tions. There the impassable barrier that closes against
us the channels of the universe, would confront us.
But, the confines of the heavens are not there.
Thought and speech, too limited in their resources,
absolutely fail in the endeavor to enunciate such incom-
mensurability. 'We cannot get even an inkling of it. by
the aid of time and space. To overburden the mind with
accumulated calculations of time and space would still
be to lay down limits for what has none, by adding du-
ration to duration, and wasteness to wasteness. Let us
suppose as many more suns and worlds as we have
already accumulated ; let us make the heavens not one
thousand million times, but thousands millions of mil-
lions of times, larger : let us then unlimitedly heap
multiplication upon multiplication, so long as our intel-
lectual strength will permit, away beyond this unimag-
inable expanse, the universe continues, limitless and
Let him who will invent enormous immensities that
put to shame, exaggeration itself. Vain attempt in
those regions, where neither centre nor circumference,"
neither numerical quantities nor gradations of time
survive. It would be to play the part of the tiny worm
which, having succeeded in creeping up the humble
64 NEW ASTEOXOMY.
smallness of a blade of grass, would cast it into the
scales against the mass of worlds. For, here, hyperbole
the most extravagant, the number the most astounding,
fall far below reality. These fathomless abysses, whose
mysterious appurtenances are concealed from us, do not
form a sensible point in that infinity, where the pro-
foundest meditations and the science of all generations
have been and will be ingulfed.
In presence of the revelations of this inexhaustible
geometry, which throws into the shade our abstrusest
mathematics, man, led back to the consciousness of his
diminutive proportions, is surprised to find himself dis-
enchanted of all his conceits. We ought to have already
given utterance to our reflections relating to this infirm-
ity of our race, which is of so old a date in our history,
and which ascends from the peasant to the king, gather-
ing volume as it rises. Such is our profound ignorance
of the things of nature, that we have concluded to look
upon ourselves with the eyes of an exclusive admira-
tion, because we have always failed to imagine, in
painting or in sculpture, a type superior to the human
The universe reveals the most sublime reality which
might be felt by man, who belongs by its intellectual
culture, to this very small minority, which forms the
world of the thought. It is athwart the Stellar regions,
which require an eternity for their exploration, that his
mind in the plenitude of its knowledge, abandons itself,
in order that it may become inspired with the elements
of a profounder science. To his enlightened understand-
ing it belongs to take in and to reproduce, from the
union of the supremely great and of the supremely beau-
tiful, those living emotions, whose charm is continually
NEW ASTEONOMY. 65'
prolonged in the play of a geometrical perfection sol-
emnly instinct with life. Flood of vitalities and activi-
ties ; fecundity, richness, variability, endless swarming
forth of illuminations; motion everywhere, and every-
where the novelty that it perpetuates. Mighty features
these, broadly stamped upon the physiognomy of the
universal reality, with all the hum of life, the harmonies
of luminous hue. On this stupendous page of eternity,
in which nature opens the perspectives of her grandeur,
each sun is a letter of the name which designates her
with her attributes, and that name, infinity can utter it,
only by the unanimous concert of the sublimities of the
universe. Each one of the illuminated characters of
this scintillating topography of the empyrean, has been
marshalled by the infallible science of nature, and the
transformatians which have improved them are the
continuance of her work, set with indelible stamps in
her archives. Nowhere the law of progress is so visible.
Magnificent demonstration this, of her powerfulness
that, in its infinite, embraces, possesses and masters all
things. How sublime her incomparable industry is it
that, in the eloquent simplicity of its art, has employed
but one substance, in order to introduce into the deserts
of space, all the diversities of the existence; colors,
brightness, evolutions of moving architectures, each one
with the regulations of its mathematical preciseness, the
speciality of its inhabitants, intelligences unknown to us,
under forms likewise unknown.
All these residences of dissimilar populations, isolated
one from another by prodigious distances, are the diver-
sified institutions of an unity, which commences and
ends in not any part. And always the infinite in its
persisting reality, which, making our thought overleap
66 NEW ASTEONOMY.
tlie barrier where our senses encounter their limits of
perception, puts it in front of the enormities of the
heavens, and in front of the most reduced diminutive-
n esses of earth ; two opposed contrasts by the state of
existence, the form and the dimension, in front of the
invisible spheres that circle beyond the ken of our tel-
escopes in the impenetrable depths of other celestial
regions, and on. earth, in front of the invisibilities that
move beyond the reach of our microscopic instruments.
A substance this, primordial, unique and infinite.
The origin of all that is, and, at the same time, the
universal mathematical law, preordained for the govern-
ment of space, matter, life and motion ; susceptible of
exercising the most delicate functions, even those that
are imperceptible to our instruments, and capable, in
the limitless application of its forces, of carrying back
the spheres to tlieir original conflagration ; passing, by
insensible transitions, from the most elementary sim-
plicity to the most complex transcendenc}^', preparing
slowly, through the long lapse of centuries, the marble
of our palaces, and furrowing the clouds with flashes of
light, with an art of suddenness that cannot be equaled;
producing contrasts the most varied, and yet itself re-
maining invariable; which never annihilates, but bal-
ances life and death in mutual dependence, and pursues
the imperturbable course of its transfigurations ; which
causes the motion of the worlds to spring from the ten-
dency of caloric to find an equilibrium,, and permanently
maintains the same by the spherical form of those
worlds ; which draws from its state of equilibrium the
force that mutually repels the spheres, and thereby ren-
ders it impossible for them to clash in space ; which has
foresight for its logic ; conformity for its method of ar-
NEW ASTFwOXOMY. 67
rangement ; fecundity for its object; activit}^ for its
means ; economy for its measure ; progress for its con-
clusion ; in fine, whose industry is an abyss of simplici-
ty, ani whose disposable element is alwaj^s the same.
For, one single substance, spread throughout the uni-
verse, is its origin, its law and its preservation.- (^)
We halt here, at the preface of the grand book of the
Universe, which contains all what is real and possible.
(*) It is now acquired by science that our sun drew its origin
from the transformations of the nebulae, and that all the realities
existing upon the earth in the state in which we see them,
man, animal, vegetable, mineral, take their rise from the transfor-
mations of the sun, from which that luminary fetched, then, the
elements of life. That period has lasted millions of millenaries.
Uncalculable series of centuries have been necessary to the forma-
tion of the different living organizations, and to the physical forma-
tion of man, in order to make him arrive at having the body he
possesses, and consequently, at being the species he represents.
The course that the progress of his organization ran, has been im-
perceptible. Not any organ in man is now^ finished. Every living
type is in a continual improvement through the ages, whidi is
done by a slow and obscure progression, without any other inter-
vention than the infinity of time. The order of the phenomena in
nature, is ordinary and non-extraordinary.
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